Mayors tip savage rate rise
STATE FUNDING FALLS FAR SHORT OF COST
MAYORS from the cities of Belmont and South Perth and the Town of Victoria Park all expressed extreme disappointment with funding options offered by the State Government to help them achieve local government reform after a briefing last Wednesday.
And all said the cost burden of amalgamating Victoria Park with South Perth and incorporating the Shire Kalamunda within an expanded City of Belmont boundary would be borne by ratepayers.
At the end of the meeting between metropolitan mayors and Local Government Minister Tony Simpson, Victoria Park Mayor Trevor Vaughan said “it’s not enough”.
“We’ll have to fund all the cost of amalgamating,” Mr Vaughan said.
“I can see that rates will definitely go up, but we’ll have to find ways to fund it while keeping our rates increases in the CPI.”
He was referring to the State Government’s $60 million funding package for re- form that includes up to $15 million in grants, with $5 million each financial year from 2014-15, plus $45 million in loans with a 2 per cent subsidy on the interest rate.
Victoria Park acting chief executive officer Anthony Vuleta said last week that the cost of amalgamating South Perth and Victoria Park would be about $15 million, well above the $2 million per council provided by government..
South Perth Mayor Sue Doherty, whose council pulled out of reform negotiations earlier this year in protest at a lack of government funding assistance, said the community would now pay the price for the implementation of State Government policy through an increase in their rates and reduction in service delivery.
South Perth council will consider applying for funding at a special meeting tonight.
Belmont Mayor Phil Marks said the suggested cost of incorporating Kalamunda in its expanded boundaries would be $5million to $7 million.
He said a $1.25 million grant per amalgamation left a shortfall of $3.75-$5.75 million to be funded by affected ratepayers through repayment of loan borrowings. “The LGAB has not included in its considerations the latest property valuation data for rating purposes,” Cr Marks said.
“In our case, there is a differential in the residential rate in the dollar of 18.4 per cent. An immediate correction would result in either an 18.4 per cent increase for Belmont ratepayers, or an 18.4 per cent decrease for Kalamunda ratepayers.
“Any alternative adjustment between these extremes will result in a disadvantage to Belmont ratepayers.
“The additional cost to the community could be as much as $3.5m for residential rates alone.”
Victoria Park mayor Trevor Vaughan was all smiles for the camera before last week's briefing but afterwards said state funding assistance was “not enough”.